Why No One Should Talk To or Read Anything from the Heartland Institute

I had a very interesting email exchange today with Thomas Cheplick, a reporter at the Heartland Institute. For those of you paying attention over the past few years to the Telecom sector, you’ll remember The Heartland Institute as a Sock Puppet Organization that “that call themselves independent but have ties among each other and to the industries about which they are stating they have an objective opinion.”

Apparently, Mr. Cheplick is writing an “article” on the recently announced Miami Beach Free Wi-Fi network. We are certainly in favor of local city governments trying to help local residents and provide a valuable utility, especially when it is used to enable city workers and public safety services to get roaming internet access to better do their jobs and to save the city and taxpayers money.

But Mr. Cheplick’s bias against any such initiative, as well as the bias of his employer, shows through clearly in his initial email requesting NYCwireless comment. He even goes so far as to outright lie about the reasons behind the closure of other Muni-Wi-Fi networks (hint: it has something to do with the fact that the providers of such networks, such as Earthlink and MetroFi, either exited or went out of business). It seems clear to me that whatever Mr. Cheplick writes, its going to be heavily one sided, with a strong slant towards supporting big business and a big slant away from wanting to help local residents help themselves. Something to be aware of in case you come across Mr. Cheplick’s “article”.

Interestingly, I’ve met many conservatives and liberals alike that are big supporters of people and small local governments helping themselves. Its a mystery to me why anyone (unless you are an executive as a large Telco or Cableco) would be against people becoming self-sufficient. But then again, I don’t have an agenda paid for by an incumbent big business.

And yes, Mr. Cheplick, you are correct that “off-the-record” can be a two way street. So perhaps you’ll think twice about being naughty around the holidays. Hopefully, this public post will nicely match the lump of coal that was surely left in your stocking this year.

On Dec 18, 2009, at 5:59 PM, Thomas Cheplick wrote:

Hahah. I am afarid off-the-record is a two-way street. It has to be agreed to in-advance. Anything you or your organizations write to me, as a reporter, is on-the-record unless I agree to it not to be in-advance. At the moment, I have your organization down as refusing comment to ITTN News – which goes out to every state legislator office in the nation.

Dana Spiegel wrote:


We are not interested in participating in any reporting that has to do with the heartland institute. Anything I say to your organization is off the record and is not to be printed. In addition, we do not give you permission to use the NYCwireless name or that of any of our board members for any reason.

On Dec 26, 2009, at 3:52 PM, Thomas Cheplick wrote:

Why not? Why not get your comments in there? I say, check out my articles on Wi-Fi, they are very non-biased. I encourage you to revise your opinion. I would love to get and include your thoughts!

Best wishes, Thomas

— On Sat, 12/26/09, Dana Spiegel wrote:

I have no comment for the Heartland Institute.

On Dec 18, 2009, at 5:07 PM, Thomas Cheplick wrote:

Dear Dana

This is Thomas Cheplick – the reporter from the Heartland Institute.

I am working on a new story regarding Miami Beach launching a free municipal WiFi network.

This is quite a powerful muni WiFi network in that it blankets the whole city, provides free Wi-Fi access with 95% outdoor coverage and 70% indoor coverage (and up through the second floor of buildings)!

I am wondering what you think of this development in a general sense?

Also, considering that so many municipalities have had to shutdown their free WiFis because it is too expensive and city-wide WiFi’s are generally too slow and ineffective, what would you rate the chances of Miami Beach’s ultimate success here with its free WiFi?

And, on a related note, in St. Cloud in Florida, the City Council tried to shut down their free WiFi service because of the expense but stopped that initiative after residents who could not pay for their own Internet access protested loudly. In that vein, do you foresee municipal WiFi networks like Miami Beach’s at all becoming another entitlement program for Americans?

Any thoughts would be most appreciated!!

hope you are well.

Best wishes, Thomas

2 thoughts on “Why No One Should Talk To or Read Anything from the Heartland Institute”

  1. Cheplik needs to clarify what he means, when he likens community wifi with “other” entitlement programs. Is it the same as Medicare? Is it the same as Social Security? This is one troubled American.

  2. Heartland, Heritage, American Enterprise, etc. are simply big business' lobbying orgs, deployed much as the tobacco industry set up “scientific” organizations to promote their propaganda. Of course, these orgs are funded by tobacco as well as oil, energy and telecom, and never take a position that any funding industry would object to.Colluding with them does nothing but buy them respectability and the appearance of impartiality. This affects legislators; if they have “cover,” they can play the game with and take money and have meetings with these orgs. The orgs should be shunned and demonized as the lepers and demons–and traitors–they really are.

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